North Devon – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Countisbury, Lynmouth

North Devon has it all, cliffs, beaches, hills, moors, ancient wooded valleys, vast dune structures, rivers, streams, lakes and the sea.

The diversity of scenery is immense for a small area, as such, the North Devon coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Braunton Burrows has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest where its rare, wilderness qualities allow for a variety of plant and animal species to prosper.

The views from the North Devon coastline are far reaching. South Wales can be seen in the distance looking North from the Exmoor coastline across the Bristol channel. The distant island of Lundy can bee seen from most of the west facing beaches, for example, Saunton, Croyde and Woolacombe.

These views allow your eyes to settle on vast expanses of open ocean space, where there is little human influence, creating a sense of calm contemplation.

There are some beautiful wooded valleys in North Devon, which open out into small coves and mouths. Many of them lined with oak trees and other types of deciduous tree. These factors help to create wonderful narrow framed views.

Some of the locations on Exmoor provide panoramic views which include much of North Devon, with Hartland Point reaching out west to the south, the Taw and Torridge merging and emptying out into the Atlantic, with Combe Martin to the North.

The coastal scenery is varied. There are magnificent cliffs of all shapes and sizes, for example, at Baggy Point in Croyde, or the massive cliffs of Exmoor. These cliffs often contain interesting and dramatic rock formations, dating back millions of years.

There are various exposed headlands, like the magnificent Morte Point, with 180 degree views reaching from Hartland, to Lundy, all the way over to South Wales.

Waves have lashed this coast for millenia creating interesting rock formations. From the boulders of Lynmouth to the North, to the ledgy slab rocks at Westward Ho!, providing for some great swimming gullies, to the sandstone cliffs at Saunton.

The wild and free, massive dune system at Braunton Burows has been internationally recognised as a Bio-reserve with Special Scientific Interest. The Burrows are full of Flora and Fauna, and with its remote, grassy meadow areas protected by the high dunes, it can sometimes resemble a Garden of Eden!

Two of the longest beaches in North Devon are Saunton Sands and Woolacombe Beach, with Saunton Sands being slightly longer. Saunton Sands carries on around into the estuary past Crow Point, which adds another mile or two of beach. At low tide, specifically at Saunton Sands, nearer the estuary, the walk down to the sea can be around 1 km!

Isolated locations, for example, Crow Point, Morte Point, Exmoor and many other areas, create a sense of tranquillity and remoteness. Even on the busiest summer days, there is always a quiet spot within 10 mins. These areas are slightly off the beaten track and require some walking effort to get there. Ideal if you are looking for peace and solitude.

As with many areas in the UK, North Devon has all the hallmarks of classic British countryside. Old, deep, hedged lanes are abound, offering some shade in the summer sun, with luscious greenery, where insects, birds and other animals reside. There are also the quintessential chocolate box cottages, with thatched roofs and cob walls in the quaint villages and hamlets.

There are many historic coastal quays and fishing villages in North Devon, for example, Ilfracombe and Bideford. Walking around the water front, or back allies, one can imagine going back in time, when these locations were bustling ports, importing/exporting their wares all over the country and globe. Some of the old buildings and pubs are still intact, where many a sea dog has downed a pint or two, over the years, before setting off again.

Some of the largest and oldest woodlands can be found on hill sides, like along the Bideford Bay coast. There are also many hillsides cloaked in oaks in and around Exmoor, which can provide cover for the shy and elusive local dear.

The majestic Morte Point, with all its moods and colours, is a coastal headland with a mix of moors and coast. It has an extensive heathland area, and rocks that resemble a Dartmoor Tor.

North Devon has a well developed tourist industry which is lead by environmentally minded business owners and local government, allowing for sustainability and minimum effect on the local environment. The main coastal towns are tourist oriented, providing all the necessary amenities and services.

Useful Links

Woolacombe Cottages, Ivycott Farm, Woolacombe, North Devon, EX34 7HL 01271 870846